Get in Touch

Should You Hire a Job Hopper?

In some cases, you may even be tempted to actually hire someone who has hopped from one company to another every year because they did well in the initial screening.

The truth is, a lot of job hoppers do a great job in getting through the phone screening and maybe even the intensive interview. Think about it, they do so well because they’ve had much more practice.

But what if they interview well and stick out above the crowd, is it worth the risk?

While the main concern might be that the new employee will leave your company before you can recoup the costs of training, there are actually a lot more job skills these candidates don’t have that you may need to consider before making your decision.

It’s very likely job hoppers are missing important soft skills such as building productive relationships with coworkers, project planning, and most importantly, grit.

The timeline below further explains what skills job hopers are never developing every time they jump ship:

Around Month Six

Employees are still new enough that if they know how to “yes ma’am” their way through tough situations and act like they are paying attention in training, they are likely smart enough to not get fired.

Most employees have made some mistakes by this point and have likely been called out. If they have not been let go by now, they are learning how to deal with pressure and their employer sees enough potential to keep them on the team.

Watch out for job hoppers that have changed multiple jobs around this timeframe as they are either good interviewers and poor performers or bad decision makers with little grit.

Around Year One

If they stay, it means they’ve learned to deal with tough aspects of work and their employer values their contribution more than their mistakes. At this point, the time and money spent on training and company socialization is paying off and the employee has the potential to become a fully contributing team member.

If employees quit around this time, it’s likely because their annual review is going to be poor and they can no longer fake it. Many job hoppers jump ship around the one year mark for this reason. The biggest concern is they never learn how to prepare for the pressures that pop up at this point or how to prevent things from unwinding due to poor planning and preparation.

Job hoppers that frequently change companies around the one year mark are the ones that fake it, but could not make it… either due to lack of skills or lack of grit.

Around Year Two

By making it this far, it shows their performance outweighs their shortcomings and they have the grit it takes to survive difficult challenges and to fulfill their commitments.

When employees quit before this timeframe, it’s likely because the corners they cut in the first two years are catching up to them and they can’t take the heat. Typically the inability to develop internal relationships and manage conflict scares them away because it starts to deeply affect their performance.

While no longer considered a job hopper at this point, candidates with multiple 2-year jobs changes that don’t show strategic career moves, may be a product of poor management or poor self-development skills.

These candidates can often flourish with companies that have strong training and mentoring programs and invest in employee development.  But they can also continue to be repeat offenders with low self-motivation if left to their own devises.

Around Year Three

By year three, many employees have dealt with the most difficult challenges thrown at them and the ones they created themselves. They have proven their worth at least enough to not get pushed out and they have built some skills along the way, so it’s probably safe to say they are an A or B player.

Beware! At this point, employees that are in the same role as when they started have likely played it safe and not taken any risks either internally or externally of the company; and they have not proven their value to their current employer. If they are looking for a new job just for a small increase in pay, they will very likely follow that same pattern again.

If the employee is job searching now, it should be for a better long term career opportunity and advancement. If that’s the case, it’s likely that these candidates have the grit and the knowhow to thrive in the right organization.

So while some job hoppers might have that great first impression that sticks out from the other candidates, remember, it’s more than just commitment that is at risk.

Job hoppers have not experienced the pressures and challenges required to build productive relationship skills, long-term planning skills, and most importantly, they may not have the grit to become your next A player.

Comments (8)
Matthew M.
October 20, 2017

This has proven true time and time again. Thanks for the valuable perspective. Looking forward to more insight!

October 20, 2017

Thank you for checking out the post Matthew…

Jackie Miller
March 5, 2018

Depending on the market, Sales Reps are a revolving door market for filling open positions. Some companies hire reps to pick up from the last rep’s efforts that didn’t hit the projected company goals or didn’t get in the targeted doors for the needed new accounts. From that, the rotation is initiated. Thus these same sales reps are now classified “Job Hoppers”. I’ve been there. Put into a solid territory of established reps with established accounts (long term) and your job is to break in. Tough assignment yet it goes against you, as to tenor, when the resume is reviewed by the next employer(s) as a possible new hire. A pitfall Sales Reps fall into trying to find the cultural fit for themselves and trying to stay employed representing the right product(s) vs the need for a job! For those that do survive the 2-3 tenor means that were able to get the account(s) that gave them added life time w/employer. I just have a different take on the Sales Rep definition.

May 13, 2018

Hi Jackie, you bring up a really good point. Hiring companies and sales reps are stuck in this cycle of needing a warm body to take over a territory and needing a job–both needs are very time sensitive.

So where does the cycle stop? Is it with the company when hiring managers wait just a little longer to find the “right” fit, or is it with the employee waiting to fill the “right” role? My opinion is both parties need to take purposeful steps to stopping the cycle as best as they can. By bringing awareness to this problem, the cycle can be corrected and both companies and employees will benefit.

How do you think the cycle can be corrected and who do you think should be responsible for the first step?
August 31, 2018

HR managers were asked, Over a 10-year span, how many job changes, in your opinion, would it take for a professional to be viewed as a job hopper? The mean response was five.

September 3, 2018

Art, thanks so much for sharing your insight. While we have not seen a specific study as the one you mention, most HR experts will agree that multiple jobs under 2 years is a red flag which certainly matches with the survey results you mention. This question goes out to Art and others reading this post…In your experience, about what percentage of job candidates do you come across with more than 1 job change under 2 years?

September 26, 2018

Attracting and retaining talent is challenging enough in today’s market, without the cost of a bad hire – or a short tenure. Hiring a job hopper does, however, have some benefits, says Rakos.

November 4, 2018

Hdpape, good point about the costs of a bad hire. What are some of the benefits you have seen from hiring a job hopper?

Leave a Comment